Do you understand what the true value of your network is, whether in terms of measurable or immeasurable results?
Just over a year ago, I would say that I didn't. I really didn't grasp the true value or power of my network until the day I asked for help.
After 46 years of fruitless searching, I was ready to give up on finding the father I'd never met. It seemed hopeless, but a dear friend encouraged me to give it one more try and I decided to make a video asking for help and to then share it on Facebook.
But the caveat was...I'd have to share details of my life (things I haven't previously shared openly). I'd have to make myself vulnerable by exposing some of my deepest secrets.
While my fear and shame of not knowing my father was strong, the possibility of being able to find him and answer some of those fundamental questions of where I came from was even stronger. So with the encouragement of my friend and a little liquid courage (I needed a couple glasses of wine to do it), I made the video asking for help.
I waited till the next day before posting the video (a good rule of thumb when posting anything of this nature). The video was terrible but I wouldn't have the courage to do it again so I posted it anyway.
What happened surprised me deeply and fundamentally changed my worldview.
People shared it. Not just the few people that knew me well. Not even just the people in my amazing community. It was shared by complete strangers. They shared my plea across the globe.
And in just 72 hours I found my dad.
Not only did I find him, I was talking to him, on the phone.
While the power of the internet to connect us certainly played a large part, this WOULD NOT have been possible if my community and the numerous strangers I have never met had not come together to help me and share this video within their own networks.
I cannot put into words just how humbling and mind-blowing it was to watch this happen, seeing them accomplish in 72 hours what I wasn't able to on my own in 46 years.
But where did this amazing network come from?
It was the byproduct of several successful businesses, including my present business - no surprise, my network has grown exponentially over the last several years while I've been running my social media business.
And while my call for help was of a personal nature, both my personal and professional networks stepped up to aid me, as these two communities often lose their distinction in our digital age of connection.
But is there any value for you as business owner, sales rep, marketer or professional service provider to build such a large and far reaching network? If so, how exactly do you build it effectively?
Do I Need To Grow My Network?
While there are numerous reasons to inspire your network growth, both personal and professional, I'll only be addressing the reasons that'll benefit you in a professional way.
- Potential Prospects - Your network includes (or should include) people within your target market. This number is even larger in your extended network (2nd and 3rd degree connections). These are people who are either familiar with who you are and what you do or they're connected to someone who is. Why would you not want the largest possible pool of potential prospects who know, like and trust you?
- Service Providers - While entrepreneurs often try to do everything themselves, most of us aren't able to be or do all the things required to successfully run a business. This'll mean you need to find someone you trust to take on some tasks - what better place to find those people than someone who's in, or referred, by a person in your network.
- Mentors - We could all use a little direction or help from time to time and one of the best ways to get this in a professional setting is from a mentor. Your own network or extended network is a great place to to start your search for a mentor.
- Job/Career Changes - There may come a time when you want to change your job, career or strike out on your own as an entrepreneur. In any of these scenarios, having a large, well rounded network will pay off. You network can help you to locate the job you're looking for, recommend you (if they know you well), or provide support/advice/services to help you start your business.
Everyone should be able to find value from at least one of the reasons above.
So the answer to the question is YES, it's worth the time, effort and money to continually build your professional network.
How Do I Effectively Build My Network?
The first thing to consider when building your professional network is where your efforts will be most effective. If you're in a B2B marketplace, no platform is as powerful for this purpose as LinkedIn.
To help you understand just what makes LinkedIn the ideal networking platform for B2B, here are some interesting facts:
- Over 400 million global members
- 2 new members join every second
- Is considered the most effective social media platform for B2B lead generation
- Is the #1 channel to distribute content
- Drives more traffic to B2B blogs and websites than any other social media platform
- Is 277% more effective for lead generation than Facebook
Now combine that knowledge with the fundamental truth that people buy from people they know, like and trust.
To accomplish this, you essentially need to build relationships and establish your authority on your topic. There's no better place to do this than on LinkedIn.
To be most effective, there are 3 key concepts you need to focus on:
These 3 C's together equal your LinkedIn Currency (another way of saying "the value of your LinkedIn network").
Each of these concepts on their own are very powerful and can help you greatly expand and strengthen your network on LinkedIn. Together, they allow you to grow your network most effectively in an authentic way.
I'll be explaining each concept in future articles to help you better understand and implement them into your LinkedIn strategies and practice. I'll also show you how to calculate the ROI on your LinkedIn activities so you can see exactly how much revenue you can generate from using LinkedIn when you correctly implement the 3 C's of LinkedIn Currency.
Would you like to significantly impact the size of your expanded LinkedIn Network? Send me a PERSONALIZED connection request mentioning this article (it's very unlikely I will accept your request if it's not personalized!). By doing this you'll greatly expand you 2nd and 3rd degree networks.
This post originally appeared on the Top Dog Social Media blog